Preparation for a Tech Talk, Episode 2: What, Why and How - Behaviors

I've had a few technical discussions that I think have been good.


Sometimes people ask me how I'm ready for a talk. The answer is very personal for each speaker. I am sharing what works for me.


This is the second post in a series where I explain the process of discussing my technology process - from concept to concept to presentation day:


Preparing a Tech Talk, Episode 1: Motivation

Preparing a Tech Talk, Episode 2: What, Why, and How (This Post)

Preparing a Tech Talk, Part 3: Content

Go on

In this post, I will focus on finding out what, why, and how my talk is done. Being early helps me avoid many headaches in the next phase.


If you haven't seen the beginning, check it out today. This is an enjoyable blockbuster with mindbending visuals and an intriguing plot. But it also has good advice for making such a memorable talk, as Ryan Florence taught me.


This movie is about putting ideas in another person's head while sleeping. It sounds a bit offensive (and in the movie it's illegal). But if you sign up for a technical talk, this is a great description of your challenge.


What do you want people to do with your words? I try to formulate this as a first sentence. This idea should not be more than a dozen words. People will forget most of your words so you need to choose carefully what you want to draw. It is the seed you want to plant in their heads

Spinning top from the Inception movie

For example, here is the main idea of ​​my discussion.


Hot Reloading: "Developing effective policies improves workflow."


Out of Response 16: "There is a unified solution waiting for CPU and IO."


Presenting hooks: "Hooks make state logic reusable."


I can't always say the central idea clearly, or write it in a slide, but it's always been the intellectual polemic of my talk. What I say and demonstrate certainly works toward supporting this notion. I want you to prove it.


One idea is the "key" in my talk. But there are "how" and "why":

Pyramid: “How” is on top of “What”. “What” is on top of “Why”.

"How" is my approach to convey the idea to the audience. Personally, I like live demos but there are many things that can work. I'll talk more about "how" in later blog posts in this series.


We just discussed the "key" which is the main idea of ​​the talk. The idea and insight I want to plant in your head I want you to go away. I want people to share it with their friends and colleagues.


Which brings us to the "why".


To explain the "why", I will quote this conversation from Dialogue Cinema:


(Warning: Destroyers!)


Cobb: "I will divide my father's empire" "Now, this is obviously an idea that Robert himself would choose to reject. That is why we need to plant it in its subconscious depth. The subconscious is motivated by emotions, isn't it? Not because. We need to find a way to translate it into a sensitive concept.


Arthur: How do you translate a business strategy into passion?


Cobb: That's exactly where we're at. Robert's relationship with his father is now emphasized, to say the least.


Name: Well can we run with it? We might suggest him disconnecting his ancestors as "screw you" to the old man.


Cobb: No, because I think positive emotions spread negative emotions every time. We all yearn for reconciliation, catharsis. We need a positively responsive response, Robert Fisher.


Name: Okay, look good? "My father agreed that I wanted to make it for myself, without following in his footsteps."


Cobb: It might work.


Now, I do not suggest that you break the empire with your talk.


But there must be a reason for you to go out in front of thousands of people for no reason. You believe in something - and you want others to share that feeling. This is the "why" - the core of your talk


Here are examples of "what", "why" and "how" from my discussion.

How: “Live demo”. What: “Functional principles improve the developer experience”. Why: “Create your own tools to make programming fun”.

(The above pyramid is for Hot reloading with time travel)

How: “Live demo”. What: “Waiting for CPU and IO has a unified solution”. Why: “React cares about both user and developer experience”.

(The above pyramid is for Beyond React 16)

How: “Live demo”. What: “Hooks make stateful logic reusable. Why: “Hooks reveal the true nature of React”.

(The above pyramid is for Introducing Hooks)


A memorable talk takes a concise idea, makes the audience care about it, and has a clear and convincing execution. That’s the “What”, “Why”, and “How”.


In this post, I described how I organize the core ideas of my talks. Again, I want to emphasize I’m just sharing what works for me — there are many kinds of talks and your outlook on this may be very different.


In the next posts in this series, I will talk about preparing the talk outline, slides, rehearsing the talks, and what I do on the day of the presentation.


Next in this series: Preparing for a Tech Talk, Part 3: Content.


Previous in this series: Preparing for a Tech Talk, Part 1: Motivation.


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